Recent studies have reported the existence of hippocampal “time cells,” neurons that fire at particular moments during periods when behavior and location are relatively constant. However, an alternative explanation of apparent time coding is that hippocampal neurons “path integrate” to encode the distance an animal has traveled. Here, we examined hippocampal neuronal firing patterns as rats ran in place on a treadmill, thus “clamping” behavior and location, while we varied the treadmill speed to distinguish time elapsed from distance traveled. Hippocampal neurons were strongly influenced by time and distance, and less so by minor variations in location. Furthermore, the activity of different neurons reflected integration over time and distance to varying extents, with most neurons strongly influenced by both factors and some significantly influenced by only time or distance. Thus, hippocampal neuronal networks captured both the organization of time and distance in a situation where these dimensions dominated an ongoing experience.
Netrin-1 was recently identified as an early diagnostic biomarker of acute kidney injury. However, its usefulness for early diagnosis of CKD is unknown. The current study evaluated whether these proteins are increased in urine from experimental animals with diabetes.
The current study evaluated whether netrin-1 is increased in urine from diabetic rat and mice and whether netrin-1 correlated with development of nephropathy.
In rats, urinary netrin-1 excretion was significantly (p<0.001) higher in diabetic group at 4 and 10 weeks after induction of diabetes as compared to control group. Similarly, netrin-1 was increased significantly (p<0.001) in urine from hypertensive rats at 4 weeks as compared to controls. Likewise, urinary albumin excretion rates were increased in diabetic rats at 4 and 10 weeks as compared to controls and was increased in hypertensive rats at 4 weeks. Consistent with diabetic model in rat, netrin-1 excretion also increased early in diabetic mice urine and peak levels correlates with disease severity.
netrin-1 can be detected in urine from diabetic and hypertensive rats and may serve as a useful early diagnostic biomarker for development of CKD.
Biomarker; Netrin-1; Diabetic nephropathy; Albuminuria
Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a common disease with often life-threatening consequences. This vascular disorder is responsible for 1–2% of all deaths in men aged 65 years or older. Autoimmunity may be responsible for the pathogenesis of AAA. Although it is well documented that infiltrating T cells are essentially always present in AAA lesions, little is known about their role in the initiation and/or progression of the disease. To determine whether T cells infiltrating AAA lesions contain clonally expanded populations of T cells, we amplified β-chain TCR transcripts by the nonpalindromic adaptor–PCR/Vβ-specific PCR and/or Vβ-specific PCR, followed by cloning and sequencing. We report in this article that aortic abdominal aneurysmal lesions from 8 of 10 patients with AAA contained oligoclonal populations of T cells. Multiple identical copies of β-chain TCR transcripts were identified in these patients. These clonal expansions are statistically significant. These results demonstrate that αβ TCR+ T lymphocytes infiltrating aneurysmal lesions of patients with AAA have undergone proliferation and clonal expansion in vivo at the site of the aneurysmal lesion, in response to unidentified self- or nonself Ags. This evidence supports the hypothesis that AAA is a specific Ag–driven T cell disease.
Arboreal marsupials play an essential role in ecosystem function including regulating insect and plant populations, facilitating pollen and seed dispersal and acting as a prey source for higher-order carnivores in Australian environments. Primarily, research has focused on their biology, ecology and response to disturbance in forested and urban environments. We used presence-only species distribution modelling to understand the relationship between occurrences of arboreal marsupials and eco-geographical variables, and to infer habitat suitability across an urban gradient. We used post-proportional analysis to determine whether increasing urbanization affected potential habitat for arboreal marsupials. The key eco-geographical variables that influenced disturbance intolerant species and those with moderate tolerance to disturbance were natural features such as tree cover and proximity to rivers and to riparian vegetation, whereas variables for disturbance tolerant species were anthropogenic-based (e.g., road density) but also included some natural characteristics such as proximity to riparian vegetation, elevation and tree cover. Arboreal marsupial diversity was subject to substantial change along the gradient, with potential habitat for disturbance-tolerant marsupials distributed across the complete gradient and potential habitat for less tolerant species being restricted to the natural portion of the gradient. This resulted in highly-urbanized environments being inhabited by a few generalist arboreal marsupial species. Increasing urbanization therefore leads to functional simplification of arboreal marsupial assemblages, thus impacting on the ecosystem services they provide.
Invasive rodent species have established on 80% of the world's islands causing significant damage to island environments. Insular ecosystems support proportionally more biodiversity than comparative mainland areas, highlighting them as critical for global biodiversity conservation. Few techniques currently exist to adequately detect, with high confidence, species that are trap-adverse such as the black rat, Rattus rattus, in high conservation priority areas where multiple non-target species persist. This study investigates the effectiveness of camera trapping for monitoring invasive rodents in high conservation areas, and the influence of habitat features and density of colonial-nesting seabirds on rodent relative activity levels to provide insights into their potential impacts. A total of 276 camera sites were established and left in situ for 8 days. Identified species were recorded in discrete 15 min intervals, referred to as ‘events’. In total, 19 804 events were recorded. From these, 31 species were identified comprising 25 native species and six introduced. Two introduced rodent species were detected: the black rat (90% of sites), and house mouse Mus musculus (56% of sites). Rodent activity of both black rats and house mice were positively associated with the structural density of habitats. Density of seabird burrows was not strongly associated with relative activity levels of rodents, yet rodents were still present in these areas. Camera trapping enabled a large number of rodents to be detected with confidence in site-specific absences and high resolution to quantify relative activity levels. This method enables detection of multiple species simultaneously with low impact (for both target and non-target individuals); an ideal strategy for monitoring trap-adverse invasive rodents in high conservation areas.
The field of sugar metabolism, and fructose metabolism in particular, has experienced a resurgence of interest in the past decade. The “fructose hypothesis” alleges that the fructose component common to all major caloric sweeteners (sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, and fruit juice concentrates) plays a unique and causative role in the increasing rates of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. This review challenges the fructose hypothesis by comparing normal U.S. levels and patterns of fructose intake with contemporary experimental models and looking for substantive cause-and-effect evidence from real-world diets. It is concluded that 1) fructose intake at normal population levels and patterns does not cause biochemical outcomes substantially different from other dietary sugars and 2) extreme experimental models that feature hyperdosing or significantly alter the usual dietary glucose-to-fructose ratio are not predictive of typical human outcomes or useful to public health policymakers. It is recommended that granting agencies and journal editors require more physiologically relevant experimental designs and clinically important outcomes for fructose research.
In recent years, the emergence of several highly pathogenic zoonotic diseases in humans has led to a renewed emphasis on the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health, otherwise known as One Health. For example, Hendra virus (HeV), a zoonotic paramyxovirus, was discovered in 1994, and since then, infections have occurred in 7 humans, each of whom had a strong epidemiologic link to similarly affected horses. As a consequence of these outbreaks, eradication of bat populations was discussed, despite their crucial environmental roles in pollination and reduction of the insect population. We describe the development and evaluation of a vaccine for horses with the potential for breaking the chain of HeV transmission from bats to horses to humans, thereby protecting horse, human, and environmental health. The HeV vaccine for horses is a key example of a One Health approach to the control of human disease.
Hendra virus; HeV; vaccine; HeV vaccine; One Health; G glycoprotein; zoonoses; viruses; zoonotic paramyxovirus; flying foxes; horses; humans; Pteropus bats; Australia; environment; vaccination
The study of malaria parasites on the Indian subcontinent should help us understand unexpected disease outbreaks and unpredictable disease presentations from Plasmodium falciparum and from Plasmodium vivax infections. The Malaria Evolution in South Asia (MESA) research program is one of ten International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research (ICEMR) sponsored by the US National Institute of Health. In this second of two reviews, we describe why population structures of Plasmodia in India will be characterized and how we will determine their consequences on disease presentation, outcome and patterns. Specific projects will determine if genetic diversity, possibly driven by parasites with higher genetic plasticity, plays a role in changing epidemiology, pathogenesis, vector competence of parasite populations, and whether innate human genetic traits protect Indians from malaria today. Deep local clinical knowledge of malaria in India will be supplemented by basic scientists who bring new research tools. Such tools will include whole genome sequencing and analysis methods; in vitro assays to measure genome plasticity, RBC cytoadhesion, invasion, and deformability; mosquito infectivity assays to evaluate changing parasite-vector compatibilities; and host genetics to understand protective traits in Indian populations. The MESA-ICEMR study sites span diagonally across India, including a mixture of very urban and rural hospitals, each with very different disease patterns and patient populations. Research partnerships include government-associated research institutes, private medical schools, city and state government hospitals, and hospitals with industry ties. Between 2012-2017, in addition to developing clinical research and basic science infrastructure at new clinical sites, our training workshops will engage new scientists and clinicians throughout South Asia in the malaria research field.
malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; Plasmodium vivax; India; South Asia; epidemiology; drug resistance; ICEMR
The Block 2 region of the merozoite surface protein-1 (MSP-1) of Plasmodium falciparum has been identified as a target of protective immunity by a combination of seroepidemiology and parasite population genetics. Immunogenicity studies in small animals and Aotus monkeys were used to determine the efficacy of recombinant antigens derived from this region of MSP-1 as a potential vaccine antigen. Aotus lemurinus griseimembra monkeys were immunized three times with a recombinant antigen derived from the Block 2 region of MSP-1 of the monkey-adapted challenge strain, FVO of Plasmodium falciparum, using an adjuvant suitable for use in humans. Immunofluorescent antibody assays (IFA) against erythrocytes infected with P. falciparum using sera from the immunized monkeys showed that the MSP-1 Block 2 antigen induced significant antibody responses to whole malaria parasites. MSP-1 Block 2 antigen-specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) showed no significant differences in antibody titers between immunized animals. Immunized animals were challenged with the virulent P. falciparum FVO isolate and monitored for 21 days. Two out of four immunized animals were able to control their parasitaemia during the follow-up period, whereas two out of two controls developed fulminating parasitemia. Parasite-specific serum antibody titers measured by IFA were four-fold higher in protected animals than in unprotected animals. In addition, peptide-based epitope mapping of serum antibodies from immunized Aotus showed distinct differences in epitope specificities between protected and unprotected animals.
Chronic renal failure (CRF) is associated with hypertension and concomitant endothelial dysfunction, enhanced vasoconstriction, and nitric oxide synthase (NOS) dysfunction. Vascular function in patients is assessed in peripheral extremity arteries like the finger arteries, whereas animal studies often use the centrally located aorta. Therefore, we examined whether peripheral tail artery and aortic NOS function are differentially regulated by blood pressure in rats with CRF. Using wire myography, arterial function was assessed in 16-week-old Sprague-Dawley rats that were subjected to 5/6 nephrectomy (Nx; arterial ligation model) 8 weeks earlier or non-Nx (control) rats. In aortas from Nx rats, endothelial-dependent vasorelaxation response to acetylcholine (ACh) was blunted and there was enhancement of phenylephrine (PE)-mediated vasoconstriction. Inversely, tail arteries from Nx rats had no change in endothelial function and reduced response to PE. Studies where arterial segments were incubated with the nonspecific NOS inhibitor, L-NAME, showed that Nx reduced NOS function in the aorta but increased NOS function in tail artery for both ACh and PE responses. Furthermore, the observed alterations in NOS function in both aorta and tail artery were abolished when mean arterial blood pressure, as assessed by telemetry, was maintained at normal levels in the 5/6 Nx rats using triple therapy: hydralazine (30 mg/kg per day), hydrochlorothiazide (10 mg/kg per day), and reserpine (0.5 mg/kg per day). In conclusion, differential changes of NOS function in central versus peripheral arteries in CRF are dependent upon hypertension.
Aorta; hypertension; L-NAME; nephrectomy; NOS; tail artery; vascular reactivity
The “Malaria Evolution in South Asia” (MESA) program project is an International Center of Excellence for Malaria Research (ICEMR) sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health. This US–India collaborative program will study the origin of genetic diversity of malaria parasites and their selection on the Indian subcontinent. This knowledge should contribute to a better understanding of unexpected disease outbreaks and unpredictable disease presentations from Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax infections. In this first of two reviews, we highlight malaria prevalence in India. In particular, we draw attention to variations in distribution of different human-parasites and different vectors, variation in drug resistance traits, and multiple forms of clinical presentations. Uneven malaria severity in India is often attributed to large discrepancies in health care accessibility as well as human migrations within the country and across neighboring borders. Poor access to health care goes hand in hand with poor reporting from some of the same areas, combining to possibly distort disease prevalence and death from malaria in some parts of India. Corrections are underway in the form of increased resources for disease control, greater engagement of village-level health workers for early diagnosis and treatment, and possibly new public–private partnerships activities accompanying traditional national malaria control programs in the most severely affected areas. A second accompanying review raises the possibility that, beyond uneven health care, evolutionary pressures may alter malaria parasites in ways that contribute to severe disease in India, particularly in the NE corridor of India bordering Myanmar Narayanasamy et al., 2012.
Malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; Plasmodium vivax; India; South Asia; Epidemiology; Drug resistance; ICEMR
In active networks, excitatory and inhibitory synaptic inputs generate membrane voltage fluctuations that drive spike activity in a probabilistic manner. Despite this, some cells in vivo show a strong propensity to precisely lock to the local field potential and maintain a specific spike-phase relationship relative to other cells. In recordings from rat medial entorhinal cortical stellate cells, we measured spike phase-locking in response to sinusoidal “test” inputs in the presence of different forms of background membrane voltage fluctuations, generated via dynamic clamp. We find that stellate cells show strong and robust spike phase-locking to theta (4–12 Hz) inputs. This response occurs under a wide variety of background membrane voltage fluctuation conditions that include a substantial increase in overall membrane conductance. Furthermore, the IH current present in stellate cells is critical to the enhanced spike phase-locking response at theta. Finally, we show that correlations between inhibitory and excitatory conductance fluctuations, which can arise through feed-back and feed-forward inhibition, can substantially enhance the spike phase-locking response. The enhancement in locking is a result of a selective reduction in the size of low frequency membrane voltage fluctuations due to cancelation of inhibitory and excitatory current fluctuations with correlations. Hence, our results demonstrate that stellate cells have a strong preference for spike phase-locking to theta band inputs and that the absolute magnitude of locking to theta can be modulated by the properties of background membrane voltage fluctuations.
synaptic correlations; high conductance; theta; IH; voltage fluctuations; balanced excitation and inhibition; spike phase-locking
Understanding central processing requires precise monitoring of neural activity across populations of identified neurons in the intact brain. Here we used recently-optimized variants of the genetically-encoded calcium sensor GCaMP (GCaMP3 and GCaMPG5G) to image activity among genetically- and anatomically-defined neuronal populations in the olfactory bulb (OB), including two types of GABA-ergic interneurons (periglomerular (PG) and short axon (SA) cells) and OB output neurons (mitral/tufted (MT) cells) projecting to piriform cortex. We first established that changes in neuronal spiking can be accurately related to GCaMP fluorescence changes via a simple quantitative relationship over a large dynamic range. We next used in vivo two-photon imaging from individual neurons and epifluorescence signals reflecting population-level activity to investigate the spatiotemporal representation of odorants across these neuron types in anesthetized and awake mice. Under anesthesia, individual PG and SA cells showed temporally simple responses and little spontaneous activity, while MT cells were spontaneously active and showed diverse temporal responses. At the population level, response patterns of PG, SA and MT cells were surprisingly similar to those imaged from sensory inputs, with shared odorant-specific topography across the dorsal OB and inhalation-coupled temporal dynamics. During wakefulness, PG and SA cell responses increased in magnitude but remained temporally simple while those of MT cells changed to complex spatiotemporal patterns reflecting restricted excitation and widespread inhibition. These results point to multiple circuit elements with distinct roles in transforming odor representations in the OB and provide a framework for further dissecting early olfactory processing using optical and genetic tools.
Plasmodium falciparum causes approximately 1 million deaths annually. However increasing resistance imposes a continuous threat to existing drug therapies. We previously reported a number of potent and selective triazolopyrimidine-based inhibitors of Plasmodium falciparum dihydroorotate dehydrogenase that inhibit parasite in vitro growth with similar activity. Lead optimization of this series led to the recent identification of a preclinical candidate, showing good activity against P. falciparum in mice. As part of a backup program around this scaffold, we explored heteroatom rearrangement and substitution in the triazolopyrimidine ring and have identified several other ring configurations that are active as PfDHODH inhibitors. The imidazo[1,2-α]pyrimidines were shown to bind somewhat more potently than the triazolopyrimidines depending on the nature of the amino aniline substitution. DSM151, the best candidate in this series, binds with 4-fold better affinity (PfDHODH IC50 = 0.077 μM) than the equivalent triazolopyrimidine and suppresses parasites in vivo in the P. berghei model.
Seizures are thought to originate from a failure of inhibition to quell hyperactive neural circuits, but the nature of this failure remains unknown. Here we combine high-speed two-photon imaging with electrophysiological recordings to directly evaluate the interaction between populations of interneurons and principal cells during the onset of seizure-like activity in mouse hippocampal slices. Both calcium imaging and dual patch clamp recordings reveal that in vitro seizure-like events (SLEs) are preceded by pre-ictal bursts of activity in which interneurons predominate. Corresponding changes in intracellular chloride concentration were observed in pyramidal cells using the chloride indicator Clomeleon. These changes were measurable at SLE onset and became very large during the SLE. Pharmacological manipulation of GABAergic transmission, either by blocking GABAA receptors or by hyperpolarizing the GABAA reversal potential, converted SLEs to short interictal-like bursts. Together, our results support a model in which pre-ictal GABAA receptor-mediated chloride influx shifts EGABA to produce a positive feedback loop that contributes to the initiation of seizure activity.
epilepsy; ictogenesis; chloride accumulation; ion imaging; calcium; seizure; GABA; chloride transport; interneuron; targeted path scanning
The terminal phase of cytokinesis in eukaryotic cells involves breakage of the intercellular canal containing the spindle midzone and resealing of the daughter cells. Recent observations suggest that the spindle midzone is required for this process. In this study, we investigated the possibility that targeted secretion in the vicinity of the spindle midzone is required for the execution of the terminal phase of cytokinesis.
We inhibited secretion in early C. elegans embryos by treatment with brefeldin A (BFA). Using 4D recordings of dividing cells, we showed that BFA induced stereotyped failures in the terminal phase of cytokinesis; although the furrow ingressed normally, after a few minutes the furrow completely regressed, even though spindle midzone and midbody microtubules appeared normal. In addition, using an FM1-43 membrane probe, we found that membrane accumulated locally at the apices of the late cleavage furrows that form the persisting intercellular canals between daughter cells. However, in BFA-treated embryos this membrane accumulation did not occur, which possibly accounts for the observed cleavage failures.
We have shown that BFA disrupts the terminal phase of cytokinesis in the embryonic blastomeres of C. elegans. We observed that membrane accumulates at the apices of the late cleavage furrow by means of a BFA-sensitive mechanism. We suggest that this local membrane accumulation is necessary for the completion of cytokinesis and speculate that the spindle midzone region of animal cells is functionally equivalent to the phragmoplast of plants and acts to target secretion to the equatorial plane of a cleaving cell.
Nipah virus (NiV) is a zoonotic virus belonging to the henipavirus genus in the family Paramyxoviridae. Since NiV was first identified in 1999, outbreaks have continued to occur in humans in Bangladesh and India on an almost annual basis with case fatality rates reported between 40% and 100%.
Ferrets were vaccinated with 4, 20 or 100 μg HeVsG formulated with the human use approved adjuvant, CpG, in a prime-boost regime. One half of the ferrets were exposed to NiV at 20 days post boost vaccination and the other at 434 days post vaccination. The presence of virus or viral genome was assessed in ferret fluids and tissues using real-time PCR, virus isolation, histopathology, and immunohistochemistry; serology was also carried out. Non-immunised ferrets were also exposed to virus to confirm the pathogenicity of the inoculum.
Ferrets exposed to Nipah virus 20 days post vaccination remained clinically healthy. Virus or viral genome was not detected in any tissues or fluids of the vaccinated ferrets; lesions and antigen were not identified on immunohistological examination of tissues; and there was no increase in antibody titre during the observation period, consistent with failure of virus replication. Of the ferrets challenged 434 days post vaccination, all five remained well throughout the study period; viral genome – but not virus - was recovered from nasal secretions of one ferret given 20 μg HeVsG and bronchial lymph nodes of the other. There was no increase in antibody titre during the observation period, consistent with lack of stimulation of a humoral memory response.
We have previously shown that ferrets vaccinated with 4, 20 or 100 μg HeVsG formulated with CpG adjuvant, which is currently in several human clinical trials, were protected from HeV disease. Here we show, under similar conditions of use, that the vaccine also provides protection against NiV-induced disease. Such protection persists for at least 12 months post-vaccination, with data supporting only localised and self-limiting virus replication in 2 of 5 animals. These results augur well for acceptability of the vaccine to industry.
Nipah virus; Hendra virus; Henipavirus; Paramyxovirus; Ferret; Immunity; Vaccination; Glycoprotein; Subunit vaccine; Longevity
During metazoan development, cell diversity arises primarily from asymmetric cell divisions which are executed in two phases: segregation of cytoplasmic factors and positioning of the mitotic spindle – and hence the cleavage plane – relative to the axis of segregation. When polarized cells divide, spindle alignment probably occurs through the capture and subsequent shortening of astral microtubules by a site in the cortex.
Here, we report that dynactin, the dynein-activator complex, is localized at cortical microtubule attachment sites and is necessary for mitotic spindle alignment in early Caenorhabditis elegans embryos. Using RNA interference techniques, we eliminated expression in early embryos of dnc-1 (the ortholog of the vertebrate gene for p150Glued) and dnc-2 (the ortholog of the vertebrate gene for p50/Dynamitin). In both cases, misalignment of mitotic spindles occurred, demonstrating that two components of the dynactin complex, DNC-1 and DNC-2, are necessary to align the spindle.
Dynactin complexes may serve as a tether for dynein at the cortex and allow dynein to produce forces on the astral microtubules required for mitotic spindle alignment.
A limited number of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) clones are responsible for MRSA infections worldwide, and those of different lineages carry unique Type I restriction-modification (RM) variants. We have identified the specific DNA sequence targets for the dominant MRSA lineages CC1, CC5, CC8 and ST239. We experimentally demonstrate that this RM system is sufficient to block horizontal gene transfer between clinically important MRSA, confirming the bioinformatic evidence that each lineage is evolving independently. Target sites are distributed randomly in S. aureus genomes, except in a set of large conjugative plasmids encoding resistance genes that show evidence of spreading between two successful MRSA lineages. This analysis of the identification and distribution of target sites explains evolutionary patterns in a pathogenic bacterium. We show that a lack of specific target sites enables plasmids to evade the Type I RM system thereby contributing to the evolution of increasingly resistant community and hospital MRSA.
Although vitamin D deficiency is a common feature among patients presenting with active tuberculosis, the full scope of vitamin D action during Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection is poorly understood. As macrophages are the primary site of Mtb infection and are sites of vitamin D signaling, we have used these cells to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying modulation of the immune response by the hormonal form of vitamin D, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25D). We found that the virulent Mtb strain H37Rv elicits a broad host transcriptional response. Transcriptome profiling also revealed that the profile of target genes regulated by 1,25D is substantially altered by infection, and that 1,25D generally boosts infection-stimulated cytokine/chemokine responses. We further focused on the role of 1,25D- and infection-induced interleukin 1β (IL-1β) expression in response to infection. 1,25D enhanced IL-1β expression via a direct transcriptional mechanism. Secretion of IL-1β from infected cells required the NLRP3/caspase-1 inflammasome. The impact of IL-1β production was investigated in a novel model wherein infected macrophages were co-cultured with primary human small airway epithelial cells. Co-culture significantly prolonged survival of infected macrophages, and 1,25D/infection-induced IL-1β secretion from macrophages reduced mycobacterial burden by stimulating the anti-mycobacterial capacity of co-cultured lung epithelial cells. These effects were independent of 1,25D-stimulated autophagy in macrophages but dependent upon epithelial IL1R1 signaling and IL-1β-driven epithelial production of the antimicrobial peptide DEFB4/HBD2. These data provide evidence that the anti-microbial actions of vitamin D extend beyond the macrophage by modulating paracrine signaling, reinforcing its role in innate immune regulation in humans.
In 2010 there were ∼9 million cases of tuberculosis and 1.4 million deaths, representing the second largest cause of death worldwide and the leading cause of death from a curable disease. M. tuberculosis (Mtb) replicates within cells of the immune system called macrophages over an approximate 72 hour period, ultimately inducing cell death. Notably, macrophages are sites of vitamin D signaling, and there is broad evidence that vitamin D modulates macrophage responses to Mtb. Elevated levels of TB have long been associated with vitamin D deficiency, strongly suggesting that vitamin D supplementation may be of therapeutic benefit. In this study we profile the host macrophage response to Mtb infection through the use of high-throughput genomics techniques. From this we have discovered that the dominant function of vitamin D is the modulation of the levels of specific cytokines, mediators of immune cell to cell signaling. Of particular interest was the increase in IL-1β signaling, which we show to be directly regulated by vitamin D. We also show that this increase in IL-1β is critical for driving a signaling cascade between macrophages and lung epithelial cells leading to epithelial antimicrobial peptide production that helps to contain Mtb infection in our model culture system.
Malaria drug resistance contributes to up to a million annual deaths. Judicious deployment of new antimalarials and vaccines could benefit from an understanding of early molecular events that promote the evolution of parasites. Continuous in vitro challenge of Plasmodium falciparum parasites with a novel dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) inhibitor reproducibly selected for resistant parasites. Genome-wide analysis of independently-derived resistant clones revealed a two-step strategy to evolutionary success. Some haploid blood-stage parasites first survive antimalarial pressure through fortuitous DNA duplications that always included the DHODH gene. Independently-selected parasites had different sized amplification units but they were always flanked by distant A/T tracks. Higher level amplification and resistance was attained using a second, more efficient and more accurate, mechanism for head-to-tail expansion of the founder unit. This second homology-based process could faithfully tune DNA copy numbers in either direction, always retaining the unique DNA amplification sequence from the original A/T-mediated duplication for that parasite line. Pseudo-polyploidy at relevant genomic loci sets the stage for gaining additional mutations at the locus of interest. Overall, we reveal a population-based genomic strategy for mutagenesis that operates in human stages of P. falciparum to efficiently yield resistance-causing genetic changes at the correct locus in a successful parasite. Importantly, these founding events arise with precision; no other new amplifications are seen in the resistant haploid blood stage parasite. This minimizes the need for meiotic genetic cleansing that can only occur in sexual stage development of the parasite in mosquitoes.
Malaria parasites kill up to a million people around the world every year. Emergence of resistance to drugs remains a key obstacle against elimination of malaria. In the laboratory, parasites can efficiently acquire resistance to experimental antimalarials by changing DNA at the target locus. This happens efficiently even for an antimalarial that the parasite has never encountered in a clinical setting. In this study, we formally demonstrate how parasites achieve this feat: first, individual parasites in a population of millions randomly amplify large regions of DNA between short sequence repeats of adenines (A) or thymines (T) that are peppered throughout the malaria parasite genome. The rare lucky parasite that amplifies DNA coding for the target of the antimalarial, along with dozens of its neighboring genes, gains an evolutionary advantage and survives. In a second step, to withstand increasing drug pressure and to achieve higher levels of resistance, each parasite line makes additional copies of this region. This second expansion does not rely on the random A/T-based DNA rearrangements but, instead, a more precise amplification mechanism that retains the unique signature of co-amplified genes created earlier in each parasite. Generation of multiple copies of the target genes in the parasite genome may be the beginning of other beneficial changes for the parasite, including the future acquisition of mutations.
Oscillatory activity in neuronal networks correlates with different behavioral states throughout the nervous system, and the frequency-response characteristics of individual neurons are believed to be critical for network oscillations. Recent in vivo studies suggest that neurons experience periods of high membrane conductance, and that action potentials are often driven by membrane-potential fluctuations in the living animal. To investigate the frequency-response characteristics of CA1 pyramidal neurons in the presence of high conductance and voltage fluctuations, we performed dynamic-clamp experiments in rat hippocampal brain slices. We drove neurons with noisy stimuli that included a sinusoidal component ranging, in different trials, from 0.1 to 500 Hz. In subsequent data analysis, we determined action potential phase-locking profiles with respect to background conductance, average firing rate, and frequency of the sinusoidal component. We found that background conductance and firing rate qualitatively change the phase-locking profiles of CA1 pyramidal neurons vs. frequency. In particular, higher average spiking rates promoted band-pass profiles, and the high-conductance state promoted phase-locking at frequencies well above what would be predicted from changes in the membrane time constant. Mechanistically, spike-rate adaptation and frequency resonance in the spike-generating mechanism are implicated in shaping the different phase-locking profiles. Our results demonstrate that CA1 pyramidal cells can actively change their synchronization properties in response to global changes in activity associated with different behavioral states.
Microsphere suspension array systems enable the simultaneous fluorescent identification of multiple separate nucleotide targets in a single reaction. We have utilized commercially available oligo-tagged microspheres (Luminex MagPlex-TAG) to construct and evaluate multiplexed assays for the detection and differentiation of Hendra virus (HeV) and Nipah virus (NiV). Both these agents are bat-borne zoonotic paramyxoviruses of increasing concern for veterinary and human health. Assays were developed targeting multiple sites within the nucleoprotein (N) and phosphoprotein (P) encoding genes. The relative specificities and sensitivities of the assays were determined using reference isolates of each virus type, samples from experimentally infected horses, and archival veterinary diagnostic submissions. Results were assessed in direct comparison with an established qPCR. The microsphere array assays achieved unequivocal differentiation of HeV and NiV and the sensitivity of HeV detection was comparable to qPCR, indicating high analytical and diagnostic specificity and sensitivity.
We consider the mechanisms by which coherent activity arises in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex, two brain areas that are associated with episodic memory in humans and similar forms of memory in animal models. Our approach relies upon techniques from the theory of coupled oscillators. We show that such techniques can yield accurate predictions of the behavior of synaptically coupled neurons. Future work will expand upon these techniques to include real-world complications that better mimic the in vivo state.
Modulating the gain of the input-output function of neurons is critical for processing of stimuli and network dynamics. Previous gain control mechanisms have suggested that voltage fluctuations play a key role in determining neuronal gain in vivo. Here we show that, under increased membrane conductance, voltage fluctuations restore Na+ current and reduce spike frequency adaptation in rat hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons in vitro. As a consequence, membrane voltage fluctuations produce a leftward shift in the f-I relationship without a change in gain, relative to an increase in conductance alone. Furthermore, we show that these changes have important implications for the integration of inhibitory inputs. Due to the ability to restore Na+ current, hyperpolarizing membrane voltage fluctuations mediated by GABAA-like inputs can increase firing rate in a high conductance state. Finally, our data show that the effects on gain and synaptic integration are mediated by voltage fluctuations within a physiologically relevant range of frequencies (10–40 Hz).
membrane conductance; voltage fluctuations; gain control; hippocampus; spike frequency adaptation; cumulative Na+ current inactivation